Spring 2021/Matthew McDill

I’d like to tell you a story about what happened with one of my high school students that points to several important homeschooling principles:

  1. In NC, the parents decide what is required for a student to graduate, not the state or any other organization.
  2. If your student is headed to college, you must determine the high school courses and build a transcript that will meet the prospective colleges’ requirements.
  3. Many colleges (especially community colleges) offer dual enrollment for high school students. Students can take college classes and earn credit for both high school and college.
  4. Home education provides fantastic flexibility to meet your students’ individual needs and timing.

At the end of my oldest son’s sophomore year, we went out for coffee to plan for his junior year. Boy, was he prepared! He presented a very persuasive argument for completing only one more year of high school. He was not interested in going to college, he was older for his grade, and he was eager to work more and learn about business. So, I created an especially difficult “final” year of high school; he completed it diligently, and he graduated.

Can you do that? Yes, you can. In NC, the parents decide what is required for a student to graduate, not the state or any other organization. You can require more, or less, than what public schools require. You can choose the same subjects or different subjects from those used in public school.

For the next two years, my son worked very hard, saved up to buy a very nice used car with cash, and then saved another $15,000. He was also exploring vocational options and praying about what God wanted him to do with his life. At some point in the process, he became interested in law enforcement and began doing research. He quickly discovered that almost every officer he talked with recommended a college degree.

As a result, one day my son said, “Well, Dad, I think I’d like to go to college after all.” To his utter dismay, I replied, “Unfortunately, we only have a three-year high school transcript for you. You’ll have to do another year of high school!”

Although parents have the freedom to determine what is required for graduation, preparing your student for college is quite another issue. If your student is headed for college, you must determine the high school courses and build a transcript that meets the prospective colleges’ requirements.

Once my son got over the shock of this news, he agreed to complete another year of high school because he was so committed to pursuing law enforcement. We put together another year of courses that would meet the requirements of the college in which he was interested. One of the things that really made this bearable for him was dual enrollment. Many colleges (especially community colleges) offer dual enrollment for high school students. Students can take college classes and earn credit for both high school and college. My son felt that he wasn’t just going back to high school—he was also moving forward with college.

As I look back at this adventure, I would not do it any differently. My son needed to go to work and do research to discover what direction he was heading in. Once he had a direction, he was able to chart a path. Most important, he had his own personal understanding of and motivation in the process. He wasn’t just going to college because that’s what most people do. This experience is one of the reasons I love homeschooling so much. Home education provides fantastic flexibility to meet your students’ individual needs and timing. On the other end of the spectrum, I currently have a daughter who would normally be a junior in high school this year. She is young for her grade, feels behind on her work, and wants to build a good transcript, so she has decided to take an extra year as a sophomore.

I hope this story will inform you about how homeschooling high school works in NC and encourage you to take full advantage of the wonderful flexibility homeschooling provides to meet the unique needs and timing of each of your children.

Matthew McDill and his wife, Dana, have been homeschooling their 9 children for 16 years. Matthew is the executive director for North Carolinians for Home Education and continues to serve as president of the board. He is author of Loving God: A Practical Handbook for Discipleship. Matthew holds a bachelor’s degree in communication along with 2 master’s degrees and a doctorate in biblical studies.